Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Monolithic 3-D IC Topped With Solar Cell for Internet of Things

IEEE Spectrum

By Yu-Tzu Chiu
[PHOTO] A wafer of silicon chips.

A laboratory leading the charge toward monolithic 3-D ICs has now added ambient-light energy harvesters to its integration repertoire. Engineers at Taiwan's National Nano Device Laboratories (NDL) hope to use the integrated photovoltaic component to create a convenient, mobile, and durable Internet-of-Things chip.
The IoT chip is a 3-D stack that includes logic, a type of nonvolatile memory similar to flash, and SRAM all built atop each other. Usually, ambient light energy harvesters placed beside other chips on a circuit board. But building it right on top of a monolithic three-dimensional integrated circuit (3D IC)saved a lot of space, said Chang-Hong Shen, Division Director of the lab’s Emerging Device, said in a news conference in Taipei in March. “The integration reduced the size of the device by 60 percent,” he said.
It also saves energy, because the distance electricity must travel between the energy harvester and the transistors it must power was reduced 1,000-fold—from the order of millimeters to that of micrometers, Shen said. The light-energy harvester portion consists layers of silicon and germanium, that produce an output voltage greater than 1 volt and generates about 7 milliwats per square centimeter in outdoor light. (It generated about 20 microwatts per square centimeter indoors.)
“We just collect ambient optical energy, which could have been wasted, without the demand for more sources of energy in the environment,” Shen said. “The energy collection can still be conducted when the compact chip is in sleep mode.”
According to Jen-Inn Chyi, senior vice president of Taiwan’s National Applied Research Laboratories, the technology can be used in a wide range of IoT applications. “It particularly suits some chips with simple functions. It might not be able to replace main power supply of chips. But it can certainly help prolong a charge cycle, further extending the lifespan of chips,” Chyi said.
According to Shen, light-powered IoT chips either outdoors could detect a structure’s seismic response or sense nearby movement and smoke. It can be also ideally applied wearables, such as smart watches. But powering energy-intensive smartphones are beyond this technology’s reach, Shen said.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Big Data vs. Chip Defects【IEEE Spectum】

By Yu-Tzu Chiu
Nov. 25, 2014 
Even the top chipmakers, with the most advanced manufacturing equipment available, have some “dog tools”–machines that produce wafers with too many defects. A team of statistics experts in Taiwan, jointly formed by the Academia Sinica and National University of Kaohsiung, has come up with abig data solution that lets Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) discover those dogs.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Protest supporters in Taiwan plan pro-democracy «frontline»

By Yu-Tzu Chiu, dpa (02 October 2014, Thursday)

Taipei (dpa) - The street protests in Hong Kong have boosted the determination of Taiwanese activists to resist what they see as anti-democratic forces emanating from China.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Peer Review Scandal Takes Down Taiwanese Minister 【IEEE Spectum】

Taiwan's Education Minister Wei-ling Chiang resigned this week over an academic publishing scandal involving a peer review ring plotted by a young Taiwanese researcher.

In early July, 60 academic papers—five of which list Chiang as a co-author—were retracted from the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC) after an investigation revealed a "peer review and citation ring" involving former National Pingtung University of Education (NPUE) associate professor Peter Chen (Chen-yuan Chen).
According to JVC's publisher, Sage Publications, Chen had created fraudulent online accounts to favorably review the papers.
“Consequently, SAGE scrutinized further the co-authors of and reviewers selected for Peter Chen’s papers, [and] these names appeared to form part of a peer review ring. The investigation also revealed that on at least one occasion, the author Peter Chen reviewed his own paper under one of the aliases he had created,” SAGE said in a statement on earlier this month.
In 2013, the then editor-in-chief of JVC, Professor Ali H. Nayfeh, and SAGE became aware of the potential peer review ring plotted by Chen. Chen resigned from his post at NPUE this February. Nayfeh retired and resigned his position as editor-in-chief of JVC in May.
The retractions were first reported on the blog Retraction Watch. When the news became widely reported by local media in Taiwan, Chiang, who holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Stanford University, denied that he knew Chen and said he was unaware of being listed as a co-author.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Taiwanese still unconvinced of mainland envoy's sincerity

Taiwanese still unconvinced of mainland envoy's sincerity
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
By Yu-Tzu Chiu

 Taipei (dpa) – Beijing's point man on Taiwan cut short his trip to the island at the weekend as protests intensified, leaving many locals feeling more aggrieved than soothed by the visit that had been billed as an outreach exercise.

Zhang Zhijun, the first Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) minister to visit the territory, cancelled visits to a fishing port and a temple after his motorcade was assaulted with white paint, and several people were injured in protest clashes.

Instead he returned straight to Beijing Saturday, after a three-day tour of official meetings that critics said were selective and secretive.

If it was an attempt by Taipei to spread a feeling of warmer ties with the mainland, it backfired badly, said Koo Kwang-ming, a former presidential adviser and, at 89, one of Taiwan's most senior pro-independence activists.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Blasts of Ultrasound Could Get Needed Drugs Into the Brain【IEEE Spectum】

From IEEE Spectrum

New focused ultrasound arrays can temporarily breach the blood-brain barrier
By Yu-Tzu Chiu

Images: Hao-Li Liu/Chang Gung University

Window In The Brain: A 256-channel ultrasound array [right] has been tested on a pig. The array could electronically steer ultrasound energy to open the blood-brain barrier and allow a substance [above, in red] to enter the brain.

There’s a barrier in your brain.
Composed of very densely packed cells in the capillary walls, it restricts the passage of substances of the wrong size or chemistry from the bloodstream. Like a locked fence around your home, the blood-brain barrier prevents intruders—such as infective bacteria—from entering.
But a locked fence can also keep out rescuers in an emergency, and the blood-brain barrier keeps out potentially helpful drugs that might be able to ease the suffering of the tens of millions of people with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other diseases of the central nervous system. Less than 5 percent of the roughly 7000 available drugs can get through. Basically, none of the large-molecule drugs can, severely limiting the options for new therapies.
But there’s hope. Blasts of ultrasound can temporarily open the barrier in tightly focused spots of the brain that are just millimeters in diameter. And engineers at Chang Gung University, in Taiwan, have recently come up with a much improved way of delivering that energy.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Taiwan Engineers Around Export Restrictions and Winds Up with a Better Satellite 【IEEE Spectum】

 (IEEE Spectrum)
By Yu-Tzu Chiu
28 Feb 2014 | 19:45 GMT
Since it launched its first satellite in 1999, Taiwan has been operating at a disadvantage. It’s had to maneuver through a thicket of export restrictions from European countries, such as France, Germany, and the United States to acquire a key component, without which its satellites would be lost. That component, a space-based GPS receiver helps fix the flying direction for a satellite and accurately calculate which way a spacecraft’s antenna should point. 
According to Chen-Tsung Lin, director of Flight Control Division of theNational Space Organization (NSPO), dealing with those country’s export restrictions regarding space systems could take up to six months, and the lengthy process has seriously hampered Taiwan’s satellite projects.
Three years of hard work by Lin’s team resulted in the creation of Taiwan’s first home grown space-based GPS receiver. What’s more, the receiver is actually better than what Taiwan had been able to import in several ways.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Baby giant panda fever grips Taiwan

Baby giant panda fever grips Taiwan 
By Yu-Tzu Chiu, dpa
2, Feb 2014
TAIPEI:For Cheng Shu-fen, queuing more than 90 minutes to let her 2-year-old son catch a brief glimpse of the first Taiwan-born giant panda cub was worth it.

In the Taipei Zoo's Panda House, the mother and son stayed in a long line, from where they could spot Yuan Zai three times from different angles.

"My boy was thrilled even though the longest glimpse we had was only 5 seconds," Cheng said.

Cheng was one of about 20,000 tourists visiting the zoo that day.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines faces long road to recovery

The Lancet, Volume 382, Issue 9906, Pages 1691 - 1692, 23 November 2013
Yu-Tzu Chiu

Homes, health infrastructure, and other essential services have been decimated in areas hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan, leaving millions of survivors vulnerable to illness. Yu-Tzu Chiu reports.

The death of 3-day-old infant Althea Mustacia on Nov 16 might have been avoided had ventilators been working at a public medical centre in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines's Leyte province. 

Establishing sustained respiration for the infant who had asphyxia after birth was tragically hampered, however, after power lines went down across the entire region in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit central Philippines on Nov 8.

Filipino health officials say that most hospitals and health facilities in the typhoon-hit areas are seriously damaged. In Tacloban (figure), in the worst-hit province of Leyte, only one public hospital remains functional following Haiyan (one of the strongest storms ever recorded), according to Gloria Balboa, a regional director at the Philippines Department of Health (DOH). “Now we have to rely on private facilities and some additional hospitals set up by international groups”, she tells The Lancet.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In-Air Signature Gives Mobile Security to the Password-Challenged【IEEE Spectum】

By Yu-Tzu Chiu

Nobody likes passwords. If you use the same one everywhere, a single slipup can give a thief access to all your information. If you make your passwords unique, you’ll have so many you’ll have to rely on your Web browser to remember them.

Pokai Chen and Meng-syun Tsai, computer scientists at National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), based in Hsinchu, Taiwan, think thesolution is to revert to the days when the only ID you ever needed was your signature. They’ve come up with an app that lets you log in by drawing your signature—or anything else, really—in the air with your smartphone.